3 Best Solar Panels

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Solar energy is one of the more abundant resources in the world. And solar panels, which harness solar energy and convert it to electricity, have been in production for decades to try to harness that renewable resource. The demand for finding alternate sources of efficient and renewable energy has increased substantially over the past decade, and advances in solar technology are answering the call.

SunPower 215

  • SunPower is an American company that produces solar panels and other solar power equipment. The company was ranked No. 1 in the world by Energy Focus, a British organization that rates and reviews energy companies worldwide. The website Solar Power Authority says SunPower produces some of the most efficient solar panels on the market, using technology developed at Stanford University. Their panels are also aesthetically pleasing, according to the website. Energy Focus gave SunPower a product rating of 4.25 out of 5 possible stars. According to SunPower, the 215 is the most efficient on the market, producing up to 50 percent more power than conventional solar panels of the same size. Their efficiency is 17.3 percent, which is average for other solar panels that produce at between 12 and 20 percent efficiency, according to Solar Power Authority.

SolarWorld Sunmodule

  • SolarWorld is a German company that also produces solar panels in the United States. According to the website Moodia, SolarWorld procures its own raw materials for their solar panels, so the quality control process can be monitored by the company from beginning to end. Energy Focus gave SolarWorld panels a product rating of 4.25 out of 5 possible stars. Business Wire calls the Sunmodule a high quality and reliable solar panel that comes with a 25-year performance guarantee. SolarWorld uses high-performance polychrystalline technology that offers power densities of 230 to 240 watts at peak performance.

Westinghouse Solar Andalay

  • Westinghouse acquired a solar company called Akeena Solar in 2010 and began marketing an all-new type of solar panel called the Andalay. It's the first integrated, truly do-it-yourself solar panel on the market. All of its components, including the wiring, racks and inverters, are built in. The technology is called plug-and-play because the panels basically only need to be mounted and plugged in to be operational. Also, they are the first solar panels to produce AC current, which is the type of power used in homes. Other solar panels produce DC current that must be converted to AC current, which requires more components. Westinghouse says the Andalay reduces the amount of parts needed 80 percent. The Andalay was named the most innovative solar panel by the Daily Green in 2010.

Going Solar

  • Before deciding to go with solar panels, you should decide if you would like your home to be 100 percent solar. You will need to know how much energy you use to determine if you have enough roof area to accommodate the solar panels, and also if it's a cost-effective investment. SunPower recommends using solar panels to supplement utility-provided electricity. Electricity used at night is cheaper than electricity used during the day, when your solar panels would be working.

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